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Minister Creed Reacts to Spread of African Swine Fever into Western Europe

The Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine, Mr Michael Creed TD noted with concern the detection of African swine fever in Belgium. Minister Creed said that ‘the identification of African swine fever now in Belgium, close to the French border, as well as its continued spread in eastern Europe, is an increasing cause of concern’.

African swine fever (ASF) is a highly contagious and usually fatal viral disease of pigs. It does not affect humans and meat from pigs does not pose any food safety risk.

The disease has been spreading in Eastern Europe since it first entered the European Union in 2014. In addition to the new cases in Belgium the disease is already present in a number of EU Member States including Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and more recently Bulgaria. ASF was also confirmed in China for the first time in August 2018.

There is no treatment for ASF in pigs and there is no vaccine available currently. 

Minister Creed advised pig farmers to be aware of the clinical signs of ASF and to consult their vet or local Regional Veterinary Office if they have any concerns. He added that ‘it is vital that biosecurity measures are reviewed, that unauthorised persons do not have access to pigs at any time, that food waste is not fed to pigs and that all workers on pig farms are fully aware of the necessary biosecurity measures’.

He further advised members of the public not to bring meat of meat products from affected countries into Ireland and that anyone visiting a farm in affected countries to take particular biosecurity measures before entering onto Irish farms. Minister Creed advised that further information is available on the Department’s website here.

The Department maintains close contact with the European Commission and also with DAERA in Northern Ireland and will keep the situation under continuous review.

Note for Editors

  1. ASF has never been detected in Ireland.
  2. The main risk to Ireland is from the illegal or inadvertent importation of meat or meat products from infected pigs particularly as the virus is very stable and can survive for months in uncooked or cured pork and pork products e.g. salami, sausages.
  3. The feeding of such products to pigs could then result in a disease outbreak here.
  4. A further risk is the inadvertent spread of the virus by humans – via clothing, footwear etc - who may have been exposed to the virus affected countries.
  5. Wild boar which are also affected by the disease have also played a major role in the spread of ASF in Eastern Europe and contact between infected wild boar and domestic pigs has resulted in outbreaks particularly on small backyard pig farms in affected countries.
  6. The Department has engaged in a comprehensive awareness raising campaign in relation to ASF particularly over the last year to ensure pig farmers and members of the public are aware of the risks.

Ends

Date Released: 15 September 2018